tv [untitled] August 10, 2012 6:00am-6:30am PDT
she needs my arm for balance but avoids my touch. she counts the 10 sign posts. 5 stop signs and 2 mailboxes to our destination. she moves her lips as if remembering. before i came here, i had a name. 4 palm trees faced us when we landed loomed like guardians to pass the golden gate we tell them what they wanted to hear. on this island of desperate dreams we shed our skins and wore new once. we burned our parents name and let our past curl into smoke. no longer my father's daughter. no longer my husband's wife. only the sea gulls know who i
really am. for months we were held in separate rooms the dampness went through the bunks and gnawed our bones the wales of ghosts kept us awake. 32 steps to my father's house. 4 windows facing north. 24 steps to my uncle's house, 2 doors facing south. i have 3 sisters, 2 brothers, 4 cousins on my father's side. now i store the memory in a drawer along with bitter herbs and rhinoceros horns we dine at restaurants on the better side of towns with pink table cloths and real flowers in the vases. we hardly go to china town.
before i came here, i held his hand. now my heart is a chinese box of riddels, no one understands. i blew hot soup for her on foggy nights. she trims the ends of my thinning hair, still she can't forget that day she faced the interrogation officers and said she was my sister. i have not told anyone we move like shadows in a haze of secrets and lies. now stairs fascinate her. she knows the neighbor's house by heart. 21 steps to the door. 9 windows. 1-1/2 bathrooms. she counts every timely visit just to make sure.
in case one day she has to know. before i came here, i had a name. >> ships of wind. softly size the swaying trees in the secret place stilled by time. we toil between the deep brown earth crumbs past frommant toant in orderly procession surrounded by crushed new born grass and flattened flowers. many of us have died here. who's secret [inaudible] we do not know. nor the shift of wind the sudden wake that blocked the sun changes the course and brought with it the endless nights. we enl know the passing of formless clouds o pass the porch
forced to forge a new since the coming of the black rain. number 2. there secrets here not ever known. we only carry the sudden weight of memories. not at hair pins, green tea, rice balls wrapped in silken cloth. melted crayons, moth and marbles. flightless wings in a brown bag. they are safe inside us. neither shift of wind nor sun's cruel wrath can force us from our charge into the endless night we stand our ground monolithic protectors of the broken spirit. 3. there was a place sacred beaconed by time.
i remember. the new born grass trampled beneath the earth. no one else should die here. there was a flash, no, 2 secrets locked in a fire ball. the shift of wind the sudden weight of blue heat formless days worn past, changed since the coming of endless night. >> and my last poem -- speaks to world events. and now i'm also thinking about the atrocities in berma. called the world i leave you.
once there were 2 towers then there were none. i searched among the rubble for bones of men. what kind of world i leave you, what's human left of race? what more can i give you to resurrect your faith? smiles, i give and laughter like rain, flakes of snow that gently splay against the window pain. light transformed to rainbow, sweat from a dancer's brow. giggles of rivers running down mountains, flowers unfolding to face the sky. pain from sclap nal's path. blood from solders punctured
hearts still borns pushed from aching wombs this belongs to you. dirt and miracles reborn. sweetness made sweeter by bitter sun and shadow forged as one. once there were 2 towers then there were none. between the once and the then lay all the hopes and fears of men. this is the world i leave you. ripe and full as a mother's breast. a baby's licking tongue grabbing hand and glistened eyes. thank you. [applause]. our next reader is rashne. lived studies and work indeed india, pakistan, lebanon, the united states and mexico. she is the editor of living in america.
poetry and fiction by south asian american writers. encounter people of asian decent in the americas her novel, braided tongue was published in 2003. i introduce rashne. >> i'm reading from a selection from a longer narrative. memory is no longer confused. it has a home land. from a farm by the late ali. sometimes the circle breaks and the woman meets the child. face-to-face. each one seeing for the first time her strength in the other. a poem by jenny. [inaudible]. after more than a year of e mails and phone conversations, amy,ling and i met at the university of wisconsin in
madison. it was sometime during the mid 1980. calcutta was very hot, said amy. i wondered how our conversation about asian american literature veered to calcutta? calcutta was very hot but i got my first doll there. we spent some time in calcutta when we fled to the united states. the doll didn't look like me blond hair and blue ice bought from calcutta. she comforted me when i remember the sounds of the japanese bombs that forced us to leave our home. did you have a dog? an indian doll to comfort you when you were a child? i told amy about my doll named
champy and my oldest paternal uncle who resembled chinese ancestors. my uncle was an astounding musician played the violin and k helo. i would pick up shanty's head and place her ears on the door because her ears were smaller than my ears. i wanted her to listen carefully to the wonderful sound. i may have know in the way children know but my uncle's music would disappear from my life far too soon. he died when he was 40 years old. i tried to tell amy how my grand mother asked everyone why no one could bring her oldest son back
to life even after we made great progress in medical science. but in the end, broke my grand mother's heart was her 2 daughters could not come for their brother's funeral. when it explained to her that my aunts who lived in india and pack tan were considered enemy aliens we looked at us as we were inmates. we are brothers and sisters all of them are my children and went to grieve in the privacy of her prayers. we were quiet for sometime, both of us try to break away from the sounds of bombs and the sounds of grieve that accompany the tearing apart of people. 1 from the other. amy broke our silence.
what do you mean pieces of your doll. i had 3 dolls all 3 were shanty. all 3 dolls were made of brittle plastic like material we called cutcha caw. they were hollow the different parts of their bodies were hooked with rubber bands. whatever held those 3 parts together they always broke within a few weeks and the dolls continued to exist in their separate components. i suspect my male cousin was the deconductor of the dolls. the grownups promised to reconstruct them but didn't have the time to follow up on their promises or forgot i was carrying around parts of dolls. except one aunt. she screamed every time she saw me carrying the 3 sets of legs
and arms and 3 heads 234 thericcety carriage i pushed around. to assure my aunt the dolls were doing well. i would reassemble them mixing and matching the different parts of the dolls. may be it was a child's way of remembering the acts and the passion of iceis in search of her fragmented husband and the passion of [inaudible] tearing apart and putting together her colonizing bright sister. i still love dolls i collect them. what about you asked amy. she was disapointed when i told her that i hadn't cared from dolls since i was in my early teens. in the late 1990's a friend wanted to give me a custom made
doll. i requested a chinese young girl doll. and with my friend's permission i gaveamy the doll. the last time i saw the doll was in a collection of dolls aranged with great care in the house by the lake in madison where amy's memorial was held in 1999. last year, 7 years after amy's death i saw an old woman selling dolls right in front of the young federalist blocking the entrance to the [inaudible] and the conflict torn town. in 2006. and i thought of amy. and her passion for justice. and her love of dolls. later that evening, i thought of amy again.
i found my friend shanty at the dining room table watching the television news about iraq. she was touching one of the most grotesque doll i had seen much the doll is 10 inches tall and look as if she was dying offan rexia. she was in a long gown, of course, blontd hair and green ice. if you can mag manual a bizarre version of a barbie that doll was it. returned from the 15th birthday celebration of friends of the family and the doll was part of the souvenir package given to all the female guests. everyone was given that doll. i was about to make a joke about that doll when i realized that 53 year old shanty was holding on to that doll as if it was a
talisman. she turned to the television and said, i hope i never have to eat squirrel meat again. [inaudible] shanta was born in the mountains and grew up as the poorest of poor. when she was 5 years old her father died and her uncle gave her to a family that owned a small ranch and now owns a [inaudible]. i was in surprise that one time she had eaten squirrel meat but i wonder what brought up the squirrel meat that evening. shanta rocked the doll and told me when she was 4 or younger she found out there were dolls in the world. apparently her father told her about some of the girls in the
city had little make believe babies. shanta wanted a doll. her parents laughed and shook their head. her favorite brother went to the mountains, caught the biggest squirrel he could find. kill today, cleaned out the meat, stuffed the clean squirrel with dry grass and presented the squirrel to shanta as her make believe baby. shanta loved her brother's gift but could never eat squirrel meat. the sound of loud bombs went off. we both jumped. last winter when we heard loud noises we wondered if they were bombs or fire works set off for a celebration or if they were professional or homemade rockets
being exchanged with demonstrators and the federalists. shanta put her doll against her shoulder and patted the doll's back in the universal gesture of burping the baby. her last words to me last night were; does anyone know how many babies and children have been killed in iraq? how many babies and children are being killed or thrown out of their homes all over the world. why does everyone want to ask indigenous pe indigenous people of the world as if we were garbage to be thrown away. when i had told amy [inaudible] madison that the first time i saw the statute of liberty i thought the statute was a huge white unbreakable doll. amy said her memory of the
statute was of her little brother crying. what will happen to us now? if the people don't like us where will we go. we have nowhere to go. will they throw us back to the sea. we don't have a home anymore. anywhere. memory does have a home land. it appeared to me once in the memory of a phone call our mother's bright flame for amy. before i could say, how are you. amy said, a wonder thing happen indeed a conference in japan last month much i was walking with a japanese woman talking about literature when she stopped, turned to me and said, are we still college eyes to you for what we did to your mother
in chien and i apologize to you. amy laughed when she said anger disappeared from my life from my very body when my new friend spoke to me. when she acknowledged my childhood grieve and offered hope in the form of an apology. thank you. [applause] >> our next reader is grace angel. she is painter, poet and photographer. married and has 2 girls she is an event planner and art's fundraiser. her works have been exhibited in the bay area and international. she's working on poems entitled, from a fanatic heart. grace.
written at a time when i'd say was my hungry period. the first is bones. my bones are bleached white under your stare while you warm your hands under my open wounds i swallow the air you exheal and pluck the bones from your rib cage and i will make a man out of you. my bones memorized the weight of your since. they are brittle with forgiveness. my thighs unfold as you press the palm of your hand against my curving spine and plant your bones inside my garden. this one is draft it's the one in thean tholology. he smoothed the wrinkles on my bell and he sucked my bitter
fruit. we plowed an ocean in my navel and sowed mountains of regrets into fields. we allowed only the memory of water to sustain our thirst. we dreamt of rain and listened for our trees to bare fruit. >> the next is inspired by my mother, are we all? this is garden. the gate to my mother's garden opened always trees flirt with shadows and the grass says my same. asleep in flowered boxes pay for rain. i open always the gate to my mother's garden. i will plant my sum in a clay
pot an offering to jealous gods and stretch my arms like branches bearing fruft foregiveness. this was inspired by my mother who likes to sew. always had an old singer sewing machine and i bought her a new one but she never uses it. this is called cloth. her cracked lipped clenched to thread a dulling needle. the folds of my mother's dress are sewn with blody hands. tattered promises and button holes filled with bottomless dreams. her she was held up with borrowed strent. she asked, when will i have a home? one day i uttered. i will plant around my house she
said. green ooh vy will grow and the cat will lay to the grass dreaming of snow. >> my mother's dress i folded in the suitcase. what slowly devour the fabric quietly releasing my mother's scent. caught in the decaying cloth. i'm sorry. i'm sorry about that. this piece was inspired by you know what happens to people during the war. and the war affects not only people that are in the middle of
the war but generations therefore. this is called, wch means flash fire and a wild sharp blades of grass that grows all over the philippines. the room was soaked with the fragrance of mangos. my mind is buzzing with flies. in the other room, my mother is mumbling and crying in her sleep. every night she dreams of the young american solder, the prisoner of war she had seen as a child in the philippineses. he was a blue eyed giant towering over the japanese soldiers. his khaki uniform was torn and stained with dried blood and mud. the faded white tag across his shirt read, private d packston.
the solders marched him to the river and made him kneel bite coconut trees on the riverbanks much the japanese officer drew his long sword, dip it in the running water, swung it high and one swoop, cut the american's head off. seconds before the blade hit him the american shouted something. perhaps his mother's name or a lover he had back home. may be it was the name of his god. he called out, but it did not matter. his head turned circles in the air before landing with a small that you had on the soft muddy banks of the river. my mother opened her mouth and
tried to scream as the head rolled past her feet. on the far hills red sparks littered dark skies like fire flies swimming. the crackling of the burning grass hiszed at the quiet country night. my mother wis perred. in the last stages of the war the retrieving army would burn the dry grass. my mother's family came upon the burnt out fields and found the body of a dog still smoking from the fire. it's tongue was sticking out of his charred skull. my mother heard it whine. it's only the wind my grand mother told her. but the clouds above stood still. there was no wind that day.
it is almost dawn. she is quiet now. mother, i said, stroking her hair and forehead. she opens her eyes and for a moment creeps me with a blank stare as if i was part of the nightmare. but she smiles and the past restores itself. i kept you up again my mother said. no. it was the heat, i answered softly. inhealing the frayingance of mangos that drifted in from the orchard. and bowed my head to the mercy of the flies. my last piece is about what it was like what it might feel like to be dead. i was diagnosed with breast
cancer a year ago. luckily i'm here but there were sleepless nights i thought, what would it be like to be dead. so -- >> the dead listened with her ice. their voices heavy with regret drop like grain on deaf pavements where children listen and trace their shadow. they dance memorize steps on wooden stairways. they sleep with their eyes open dreaming of half eaten cake. low hum of a car radio. the feel of water. the taste of skin. thank you. [applause]. closing out our evening of readers is ahn